Candace Gattens(Cuppett)

IMSE Undergrad Class of 2013

Aircon Engineering


What does the company do? Aircon Engineering is a HVAC Distributor for the Western MD, PA and WV area.  Our biggest product lines in my territory of WV are YORK and LG. Our president is an active PE, and we also have an EIT in the office for design/build and plan/spec work. We are an employee owned company since 2012 and have close to 30 employees over 2 branches in Cumberland MD and Altoona PA


Current role: Territory Manager, West Virginia, Garrett Co. MD


How I got to my current role:

– Associate Sales Engineer, Building Efficiency- Johnson Controls, Pittsburgh PA


A day in the life of a Territory Manager/Sales Engineer:

Every day is different and yet every week is starting to follow a pattern. I’ve been in this new position for almost a year now, and I thank God every day for it. Things change, and they change so fast.  I live with my husband and his 3 children. My husband is a union pipefitter for a contractor in Cumberland MD. We met through one of my jobs with Johnson Controls.  Together we have 3 dogs, 2 cats, and recently we started raising chickens and ducks.  I take responsibility for inside, and my husband takes responsibility for outside. I’ve learned that with a house, there is ALWAY something that needs attention.


Below is an example of a recent day:


5:00AM-First thought, “NOPE,” and I hit snooze, but our 2 inside dogs hear the alarm and they jump right into bed  (Best alarm ever, I never sleep in).  I let them out, turn the coffee on,  feed and water the chickens, feed the outside dog, feed and water inside dogs, feed and water cats, empty dishwasher,  change out laundry. We have the kids Thursday and Friday morning, so I make sure they are up and moving they are old enough now (14,13, and 8) to get ready by themselves.


5:30AM- Now I can get ready. I usually leave in gym clothes and pack my bag the night before so I can get out the door. I try to plan dinners in advance so I can put stuff in the crockpot before I leave.


6:00AM-I try to leave anywhere MWF between 6 and 7. On Tuesday and Thursdays we run delivery so I’m usually tied to my computer at the house until 9 when the truck leaves.


7:15 AM- The gym is an hour and half away from my house. I stop at my parent’s house in Bruceton most morning to get any lingering mail, and to drop my little sister off at school. I meet my first customer at the gas station in Bruceton most morning for a cup of coffee and to chit chat about the day ahead.


8:00AM-With any luck, I’ve made it to Planet Fitness in Morgantown or Clarksburg. I was fortunate to  have 2 different customers who enjoy going to the gym so we will go together at least a couple times a week for  an hour.  I usually check my email and follow up on any time sensitive requests before I go in.


10:00AM- I’ve finished at the gym and showered. On this particular day, my customer had a job they wanted me to check out. We drive over to their customers’ house in Fairmont, and I walk the home. I quoted them an LG system and then got back in the car to check emails again. This day I had 2 requests for quotes from dealers in Garrett CO. MD and Petersburg WV.  I don’t have any set appointments until lunch so I take a list of dealers in the area and do a “milk run” of new literature,


11:00AM- I don’t have any set appointment until lunch so I take a list of dealers in the area and do a “milk run” of stopping in to see new potential customers  by taking in business cards,  dropping off literature of products, pricing sheets, newsletters, etc., whatever it takes.  Sometimes they are quick in and outs, other times a decision maker will be there, and I can get a good conversation going. It’s always my goal to get at least 1 job to quote out of them.


12:00PM- I meet with a customer in Clarksburg for lunch… they love Mexican, and I don’t but it’s okay. I try to take an interest in what my customers like and prefer. Everyone is different, and it reflects in their businesses. Some prefer one type of equipment to another, some prefer calls to emails or texts. I found that regardless of how much of a hassle it is for me, I need to accommodate to their preferences . The easier it is to do business with us, the more orders I get.


1:00PM- After lunch I meet with a guy who owns a building in Fairmont we are interested in renting. I walk the space, and it’s perfect, but not the perfect price. It’s been sitting for a while though, so I know if I’m patient we will be able to negotiate something.  I’ll eventually follow up with him and bring my manager to tour the building while looking at other places.


2:00PM-While working my way back home. I stop at the new exit in Morgantown to see what new buildings are going up.  One of the contractors I call on put our competitor’s equipment on a couple of buildings which is irritating, but it’s important to be visible to them because eventually we will get that call. (A couple weeks later I got a request from that company to quote a couple of parts, and I pulled over the side of the interstate and worked them up a price right then and ended up selling it) After visiting with them. I stopped at Sam’s Club to pick up my order. Sam’s has a app where you tell them what you want and they shop for you and you just have to pick it up.


3:00PM-My husband usually gets home around 3:30pm which makes me jealous because he’s currently working at a site 10 minutes from the house. His kids get off the school bus every day at the house.  It’s my goal to be working my way home and to have at least made it to Bruceton by 3/3:30. I passed a customer on the road on the way home so I flagged him down. I had a part I was going to drop off tomorrow, so it was nice I could just get that done today. He needed a new parts price catalog, and I had one in my car. It was nice how that all worked out.


4:00PM- I’m usually just getting home around this time….but not today. I’m still in the car.  I put about 50-70k miles on a vehicle per year. I have XM Radio so it makes the drives go by faster. I can catch up on news, listen to business reports and I listen to A LOT of audio books. I have a lot of time to myself to reflect which is nice. Life is so busy right now. As much as I get burnt out on being in a car all the time, I cherish my me time. I like to keep in touch with my manager and folks in the office. This wheel time give me the opportunity to stay in the loop.


4:30PM-  I unpack my stuff in my car for the day and set up in my home office to finish the day. Tuesday we deliver to my territory to I have to make sure I have all of my orders in and tie up any quotes or requests from the day. We usually have to run the kids to either practice or back to their mom’s house. I tried to take my work stuff with me and ride along. I always have something that comes up and work provides me with a phone, ipad and laptop, so no matter where I’m at, I can get my work done.


5:30PM-It’s my goal to have dinner ready to eat every day by this time.


6:00PM- I usually have to vacuum the house everyday because our animals shed so bad, load dishes from dinner, change the laundry again, and change out the trash. I try to follow this same routine every day or I can get behind and overwhelmed.


7:00PM- I finally feel like I can wind down. I usually relax and watch a little bit of TV with my husband and the fur babies.


9:00PM- is when we really start to feel tired, but we make sure we stay up until at least 8:30pm. After locking up, we are in bed by 9pm most nights.


Why chose sales?

I never thought in a million years that I would be in a sales position. I thought after my co-ops and internships that I would be somewhere in manufacturing. I am so thankful Dr. Byrd suggested that I look into a career in sales before my senior year career fair.


A career in sales is probably one of the most flexible ones out there. Each day is what I make it.  I am compensated based on how hard I work. I see the results of my efforts in everything that I do. When you “make the sale” or “close the deal,” it’s instant gratification.   I hardly ever have to be bound to an office. I love making my own schedule. I usually work from home 1 day a week, but if something comes up, I have the ability to change it.


What is the end goal?

I have had lots of thoughts to what my end goal is going to be. I love the company I am working for now, and I would love to retire from it.  I work with great people all with a common goal. We take care of our customers and each other.  The longer you stay with a sales position, the easier it gets over time which means the more money you can make. We are currently looking to open another branch location in WV, so I’m excited to head that up. I have a lot of responsibilities in the home, and I would like our family to grow over the next 5 years.  Because of how happy I am right now, it’s hard for me to want to change any of that.  I never stop learning and growing in my market/industry so if something were to change, I know I would be ready for it.  I’ve taken up an interest in real estate, so I’m slowing getting into that and other investment opportunities. I didn’t have an expensive wedding. We eloped so the money saved from that will be put to good use.


Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college?

I had co-op experiences in manufacturing  for big corporations. Being in an Industrial Engineering department allowed me to see how changes can be made for the better and the direct impact it can have.  If I wanted to make changes, I had the support and freedom to do so. When I started out at a Fortune 50 corporation that wasn’t the case. They already had their ways of doing things and every branch did it the same way and that was that. We had to follow the practices set forth by corporate, even if it was clear that small changes could make everything work better.  I wasn’t valued anymore. My supervisors were selfish and only cared about the next promotion.  I was just a number, and even if I hit my sales goals, it wasn’t good enough and they wanted 20% more.  I faced 3 reorganizations and reported to 4 different managers, each with their own ideas and own focus on what makes someone successful. …in short, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  I am grateful for my first job, because I went through some of the best training and mentorship in the industry.  I felt like I was thrown to the wolves, but looking back, that was the only way I could learn to stand on my own.



Least favorite thing about sales?

This section has been the hardest for me to fill out for some reason. All of my least favorite things are also my favorite things.  I’ll try to summarize below…

-Constantly hustling and chasing the dollar and projects

-Not being  able to have control over the economy

-“Right to Work” in WV

-Driving distances between customers in WV. I cover the entire state and Garrett Co MD. My                               closest customer is an hour away from my house.  Farthest customer is  a little over 5 hours.

-I’m always on call. If someone needs a part at 2am, I find a way to get it there.



My 2 cents?

-Money isn’t everything. I don’t make as much as some of my friends I graduated with, but my retirement plan is awesome. A higher salary can come with higher levels of stress. I took a pay cut when I left my previous job, and I don’t regret it one bit.


-Every sales job is different, and you really have to pay attention to what your day-to-day responsibilities are and what company you are selling for.


-Take everything in! In the good and the bad, use it as a learning experience. My manager supports me beyond what I could ever expect. I take risks daily and whether it’s a good or bad outcome, its progress, and I learn what works and what doesn’t.


-Find a mentor!





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